Draft assessment finds formaldehyde to cause cancer and other human health risks


Washington (May 17, 2018) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), both members of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, along with Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.) today called on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop delaying the publication of a health assessment on the effects of formaldehyde exposure. The letter comes after repeated attempts by the Senators’ offices to clarify testimony provided by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt during questioning at an EPW hearing in January 2018 during which Pruitt indicated that the health study had been completed and was ready for public review.


“Unfortunately, it appears that the agency may be succumbing to pressure from industry in its attempt to delay or block the publication of the formaldehyde health assessment,” write the Senators to Administrator Pruitt. “This is exceptionally disturbing, and lends further credence to the belief, already widely held, that EPA has been captured by industry. We urge you to ensure there are no further efforts to delay or block the publication of this assessment that has serious implications for public health.”


A copy of the letter can be found HERE.


The health assessment in question was begun under the Obama administration and completed in the fall of 2017. It examines the health effects of formaldehyde exposure, a common household chemical found in manufactured wood products and some paints and fragrances. Once finalized, the health study would form part of the scientific foundation for decision making across the EPA. A draft of this assessment indicated that formaldehyde was linked to specific cancers and other human health risks.


The Senators’ letter requests specific details about the involvement of political appointees and outside lobbyists in the review and release of the formaldehyde health study. The letter comes in the wake of another EPA scandal in which agency officials suppressed a different scientific health assessment of a common drinking water contaminant because it was deemed by the Trump administration officials to be “a potential public relations nightmare,” since it was poised to detail health risks at lower levels of exposure than EPA has previously stated were safe.